Thai Election Commission disqualifies 13 lawmakers

July 16th, 2009 - 6:22 pm ICT by IANS  

Bangkok, July 16 (DPA) Thailand’s Election Commission ruled Thursday that 13 members of the ruling Democrat Party should lose their status as members of parliament for holding shares in companies involved in media or state concessions.
The resolution is to be forwarded to House of Representatives Speaker Chai Chitchob to be passed on to the Constitution Court for a final ruling, commission Secretary General Suthipol Taweechaigan said.

“The final decision is up to the court,” Suthipol said. “They may disagree with the Election Commission’s findings.”

If the Constitution Court rules to disqualify the 13 lawmakers, by-elections would need to be held in their constituencies.

The highest ranking lawmaker who would be affected by the ruling was Suthep Thuebsuban, deputy prime minister in charge of security affairs.

Under Thailand’s constitution, House members and senators are not permitted to hold shares in media outlets or companies engaged in state business to avoid conflicts of interests.

The Election Commission, an independent body charged with monitoring elections and elected officials, also ruled Thursday that 18 senators, who do not belong to political parties, should be disqualified for holding prohibited shares.

The Democrats, leading party in Thailand’s current coalition government, came to power after the Constitution Court dissolved the People Power Party (PPP) on charges of committing fraud in the December 2007 general election.

Political observers have argued that the Election Commission and Constitution Court have been granted too much power under the 2007 constitution, which was drafted by a military-appointed committee.

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